Refreshing ideas not enough

Productions in Hatch Season 3 were technically sound but did not push far enough.
Productions in Hatch Season 3 were technically sound but did not push far enough.PHOTO: BERNIE NG



Presented by: Dance Nucleus

Dance Nucleus Studio

Last Friday

There was a time in the local independent dance scene when people lamented the lack of strong physical technique. Now, with a consistent stream of technically capable young dancers joining the scene, the lament seems to be shifting to one about the content and creative processes of the works, or works-in-progress in the case of Dance Nucleus' Hatch series.

Marketed as a series "focusing on creative research and development", the four works featured in Hatch Season 3 could actually be regarded as very polished shortformat products. Each work showed the clarity of the choreographers' thought processes. But each work also showed that they could have pushed their personal artistic research much more.

In a couple of the works, there were hints of refreshing ideas.

Sherry Tay and Joseph Nair's collaborative work, Brownian, used simple verbal instructions to choreograph the audience into beginning the work by making them traverse the performance space.

Sherman Fu's Shallow Water Blackout began with a series of tableaux vivants. The constant fading in and out of light created an abrupt start-stop visual dynamic akin to jump cuts in film, often suspending the performers interestingly in mid-situation.

These elements could have been fleshed out more thoroughly and uncompromisingly.

However, they always had to segue quickly into the customary virtuosic and technical dance movement phrases.

The works of Sheriden Newman and Koustav Basu Mallick were also very safe ventures.

Connected by elastic cord, Newman's four performers moved through repetitive patterns which were interspersed with shifts in shape as well as changes in levels and spatial dimensions.

Even in this simple idea of shape- shifting and deformation, there was so much untapped potential.

Koustav is known for being sensitive in creating aesthetic experiences in his works, but his With(In) did not seem to adequately convey the themes of tenderness it was trying to drive at.

Again, the work seemed to be overly concerned with the task of doing the movement as technically accurate as possible.

This edition of Hatch gave hope, yet also left a lot more to be desired. It is great that young choreographers and dancers can now put on slick, well-rehearsed shows of a respectable technical level.

But there is a desire to see much more daring creative processes and modes of representation.

After the body is able to show technical prowess, what then happens in a choreographic process beyond movement making?

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2016, with the headline 'Refreshing ideas not enough'. Print Edition | Subscribe